{Be Out There} American Girl of the Year: Kanani

by Leighann on March 7, 2011

In 2010 I became one of the National Wildlife Federations’ Be Out There Founding Mothers. It is a program I am proud to be a part of because I think kids need unstructured time to explore outdoors and fresh air…even if it’s only in your backyard!

Like many girls her age, Q has a love of American Girl dolls. In fact they are subject to blood glucose tests and endocrinologist visits. It’s great that she can share her diabetes with them.

American Girl and the National Wildlife Federation have begun a partnership and very lucky for us, we have received both the 2010 and 2011 Girl of the Year dolls.

Lanie, last year’s featured doll, loves the outdoors and helped to raise awareness about butterfly migration and habitats while convincing her neighbor not to use pesticides in her rose garden. (I garden organically!) Q loved Lanie because in the catalogs, which Q uses like story books, she has a camper just like we do. Q wanted that camper so bad, but instead she built one from a cardboard box.

(Q is playing with Lanie next to me right now as I type. It’s Lanie’s birthday and she has on a party dress.)

The 2011 doll of the year is Kanani who hails from Hawaii, a state we’ve decided to visit for my husband’s next milestone birthday. Opening the box, Q was in awe of her long, long hair. (Q wants to grow hers so long that she can swing from it like in the movie Tangled.)

Kanani Doll and BookWe read the book Aloha, Kanani at bedtime.

Kanani Akina loves welcoming visitors to her Hawaiian home. So when her cousin Rachel comes to stay, Kanani is excited. But Rachel never seems to feel at home. Can Kanani find a way to connect with her and share the aloha spirit?

We enjoyed reading this story and learning about Kanani’s family traditions and their Shave Ice store (which is different than a snow cone!). We read about her cousin Rachel who was nervous about her mother’s second marriage and her homesickness. And we saw the girls come together as they helped to save an endangered monk seal.

I remember last year that Q was very distraught about the oil spill and all of the animals that were being hurt or killed as a result. She wanted to know how she could help and came up with a few ways that we might be better to the planet. The oil spill really gave her an appreciation of how our actions, like oil consumption, can affect the animals in the world.

Kanani Paddleboard SetAmerican Girl states: As part of our Shine On Now™ charitable efforts, American Girl is donating $1 (up to a maximum of $100,000) for every Kanani plush monk seal sold in 2011 to National Wildlife Federation® to help raise awareness of endangered animals like the Hawaiian monk seal.

Kanani’s first book reinforced the need to protect endangered animals…but also to try to understand where other people are coming from and their hidden feelings.

Kanani will be available from American Girl only in 2011.

Read more posts about our family’s experience with the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There Challenge.

Disclosure: American Girl provided us with a doll and book. Monetary compensation was not received and opinions are my own. My participation in the National Wildlife Federations’ Be Out There program is voluntary and not compensated. Please read my disclosure statement.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cara March 7, 2011 at 6:50 am

Samantha was my favorite when I was young. But my family couldn’t ever afford one. When I grew up I decided to get her anyway and when I went to the American Girl store in NYC they said she was “retired”. 🙁 Oh well, there are always the books. 🙂


2 Leighann of D-Mom Blog March 7, 2011 at 9:04 am

They are currently selling Samantha as a mini doll:




I know it’s not the same thing, but maybe the mini doll would make you happy?


3 Angela (Toucan Scraps) March 7, 2011 at 9:58 am

not being American, I found this interesting to read, thanks


4 Midge January 3, 2012 at 8:17 pm

We have been repeatedly requesting that AG create a diabetes kit for their dolls. My Daughter has been a diabetic for 4 years now and really wanted to be able to have a pump and meter for her doll. So after being told for the 3rd time that AG had no interest in creating this kit for the dolls we made one ourselves….. sad that AG will not create it, but we were able to create one ourselves.


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